Farhan Akhtar Speaks

Published On: 2013-03-09

Author: Jyothi Venkatesh / Sampurn

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Farhan Akhtar Speaks


Source: Jyothi Venkatesh



'Lakshya' stars Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta and Amitabh Bachchan in leading roles and marks the comeback of Javed Akhtar as a scriptwriter after a gap of 15 years. It is a love story set against the backdrop of the India-Pakistan war and marks the journey of a young man who finds himself through this journey. It is a story of character, strength, belief and values that he inculcates through this journey of his own self-discovery as a human being. It is about a goalless 24-year-old Karan (Hrithik) who rediscovers himself as an army man on one of Ladakh's peaks under the watchful eye of Colonel Sunil Damle (Amitabh Bachchan).

Says Farhan Akhtar, "My biggest gain, as a filmmaker, ever since I set out to make 'Dil Chahta Hai', is that I have learnt the process of filmmaking. Today after making both 'Dil Chahta Hai' and 'Lakshya' I think I know more about movies, their marketing and their positioning. Making films for me is primarily something that I consider educative. It means learning everything that goes into the making of a film, not just in terms of direction."

According to Farhan, making 'Lakshya' was more challenging than making 'Dil Chahta Hai' on two different levels. Says Farhan, "'Lakshya' was not entirely my concept. It was quite difficult to make a film from another person's point of view. My dad had written the script after his visit to Kargil, when he was invited there on the occasion of the first anniversary of Operation Vijay. Since no one from my family was from the armed forces, 'Lakshya' was an entirely alien concept as far as I was concerned. Understanding the whole ethos of the film, which has a war backdrop, was quite difficult. Unlike 'Dil Chahta Hai', which was shot in a very cool, conducive atmosphere in Mumbai and New Zealand, shooting 'Lakshya' in Leh and Ladakh was a tough task, since most of the time the cast and crew had to shoot in extreme conditions."

Farhan goes gaga about the script of 'Lakshya', which he feels is the USP of his film. "The USP of your pitch is the story and how good it is. You cannot convince an actor if he or she is not happy with your script. And no amount of cajoling by me could convince the stars to do my film if they are at the outset not happy about it. I shot 'Dil Chahta Hai' in 108 days over a period of four to five months, whereas I shot 'Lakshya' in 148 days from April 15, 2003 to January 2004, at an altitude of 18,000 feet amidst inhuman conditions, withstanding the elements."

Talking about his next project as a director, Farhan says, "My next project as a director will be 'A Voice In The Sky'. This one is just a working title, which can be changed later on. My film will be in Hindi and not English, though the title may mislead you into thinking that it is an English film. This film will go on the floors sometime in 2005."

Farhan adds. "My sister Zoya will direct 'Luck By Chance'. Yes, it is the same project, which was slated to have Madhuri Dixit playing the title role. By the way, besides co-producing her film, I have also written the dialogues for Zoya's script, though she has written the story and the screenplay. According to me, writing and directing are two entirely different processes. While writing is predominantly internal creativity, direction is something, which is very external by nature. Zoya is having talks with a few actors. I do not know whom she is going to finalize. I have also tried my hand at writing the lyrics for Gurinder Chaddha's 'Bride And Prejudice'."

Farhan adds, "As a filmmaker it has always been my policy to get the script ready first and only then talk to the stars who I think will suit the characters. It is very important not to get trapped by speaking to somebody before your script is ready. It helps the actors too because they know you are serious."

What has Farhan imbibed from his illustrious parents Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani? "From my mum I have imbibed the ability to look at situations, find the lighter side and take it in stride, even the worst criticism and go ahead in life weathering storms. And from dad, I have learnt how to have an amount of clarity of thought. I learnt from him how to be articulate and focused about what one wants to achieve."

Why did Farhan ask his dad to write the script for 'Lakshya' when he too is a writer on his own merit? Farhan explains, "To tell you the truth, I did not ask dad to write the subject of Lakshya'. In fact I was the second or the third person to hear it. My dad was shocked when I told him after he narrated the subject to me that I wanted to direct it after making a chilled out film like 'Dil Chahta Hai'." According to Farhan, 'Lakshya' is a film with an important message. Its USP, he asserts, is its new approach to the so-called genre of war movies. "It is not at all a mindless war movie with the focus and accent on non-stop violence. You will see both Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta doing something that they have never done before. Preity plays a TV journalist in my film."

Looks play a vital role in 'Lakshya' too, like it did in 'Dil Chahta Hai'." Hrithik worked very hard on his looks and was extremely cooperative. Amitji even volunteered to shave off his prize goatee for the time when 'Lakshya' was being shot. No one questioned me at all, because they knew I knew the script like the back of my hand."

Farhan says that he was pained to hear the so-called rumors, which spread in Mumbai like wild fire that on location he had misbehaved with a senior artiste and his dad's colleague Amitji. Farhan defends himself; "I made it a point to speak to him immediately before things took an ugly turn. He put me at ease by telling me to take all rumors with a pinch of salt. He assured me that there was no such thing. He advised me to get involved in my work. The rumors depressed me because frankly I feel that working with a legend like Amitabh Bachchan was a cherishing experience for a new director like me. I can never forget it." As a maker, Farhan says that he has always believed in being truthful to his contents. "Honestly speaking I mean it when I tell you that each and every person who was involved in the making of 'Lakshya' on some level or the other has achieved a milestone as far as his or her career is concerned. Everyone came together and bonded as a team and has grown a little in life, became part of the 'Lakshya' family and enjoyed the experience. 'Lakshya', to put it in a nutshell, is a simple film designed while keeping the family audiences in mind. You can go wrong if you set out to experiment as a filmmaker with a simple film. I feel pace is something which is of paramount importance."